In Alaska, elections don’t matter, not when it comes to abortion. All the legislators who will be elected this year are pro-life, or pro-choice, or something in between, but none of that matters. In Alaska, only the opinion of the Alaska Supreme Court matters.

But what about the governor, who appoints the members of the Supreme Court, surely his opinion on this issue must matter? No, oddly enough, it doesn’t, because in Alaska appointments to the Supreme Court are controlled by the Alaska Bar Association. We’ve had pro-life governors for 16 of the last 20 years, but no pro-life justice has been appointed, because the Alaska Bar Association won’t allow it.

This is not democracy. It’s oligarchy or aristocracy, the rule by an elite. Only members of the Alaska Bar Association have any say on who gets to be a judge. You, and your vote, don’t count. I’ve been a voting member of the Alaska Bar Association for 48 years. I’ve got a vote. You don’t.

Much of the sound and fury of those opposing a convention is but a thin disguise for the panic felt by the abortion-until-birth extremists, fearful that their monopoly of power may be broken.

In order to allow the people’s voice to be heard, Alaska’s Constitution needs to be amended. But such an amendment has never had and will never have the 2/3 vote needed in House and Senate. The only way such an amendment can be proposed for a vote of the people is by a statewide constitutional convention.

One amendment almost certain to be proposed by such a convention would be to return the authority over abortion to the State Legislature. Once such an amendment was adopted, legislative candidates in Alaska would have to explain their position on the abortion issue, and people can vote accordingly. The Legislature will then legislate, just as it’s supposed to do. The legislation which passes will be the result of a compromise. Neither the pro-life absolutists nor the pro-choice extremists will be satisfied. That’s democracy. It’s messy, and imperfect, but it beats all the alternatives.

Much of the sound and fury of those opposing a convention is but a thin disguise for the panic felt by the abortion-until-birth extremists, fearful that their monopoly of power may be broken. An example of this shrill rhetoric can be found in a recent ADN column by Libby Bakalar. This is a woman who knows she’s in a political minority, and frightened that this will soon be exposed.

Vote yes on the Convention.

The views expressed here are those of the author.

Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

OPINION: Con-Con vote is a chance to exercise ‘Democracy in Alaska’

Fritz Pettyjohn
Fritz Pettyjohn served as an Alaska legislator in both the State Senate and House between 1983 and 1990. He was also chair of Alaskans for Judicial Reform from 1988 to 2000.


  • Neil DeWitt says:

    This one decision could change everything in Alaska. Don’t forget former governor Walker and his thief of our money (PFD). A con con COULD put it in the constitution and which will cause Walker and his ilk from stealing more from us. Remember democrats say we only need $500-1000 a year PFDs. If we have a 50/50 split, the government wins again. We will get more under the old system originally set up in the next few years. The governor and state congress aren’t telling you that. This alone is another reason for YOU to get out and vote BUT, not until YOU do the research on candidates. Remember they tell their good points only. It’s your job to dig out the dirt and see each and everyone for who they really are. Keep all this in mind when going to vote this fall.

  • James says:

    Well, I’ll definitely be voting yes for a convention, but I doubt it passes. Maybe it would if we had fair and secure elections…

  • Ruth Ewig says:

    Where did this Constitution come from? I heard it was a copy of New York’s constitution. Was it? Why would we follow New York’s constitution? Was anyone back then even thinking? The Judicial has mostly been a problem in our country. A judge defined that the Original Constitution was meant to be a living document to change with the culture. FALSE!!! The Judicial redefined “separation of church and state [which does not even exist in the Constitution] to mean to keep Christianity out of the public places. FALSE!!! Progressive lawyers and professors made it up and then ran with it. The Judiciary Branch of government has usurped the powers of the two other branches. No judges were impeached for their crimes. Perhaps that was the opening for increased corruption and takeover. Pray that we get back on track and that the Original Intent of the US Constitution be practiced. Pray that a Con Con will effectively restore the branches of government as intended by the Constitution and that this carries down to our state.

  • Fergie says:

    In this day and age and, in the muddled state of politics in the state of Alaska and in most of the country, especially with the current voting options available, it might be well to look at other states past performances with constitutional conventions.

    In the 1960’s I lived in New York State where one was actually held. This Constitution had been in existence since 1894 and contained a very large number of detailed amendments approved by voters during subsequent years that should have been handled through statutes and had become very cumbersome, and in some cases, outdated and not appropriate for current reality. Sound familiar?

    The New York legislature is required by law at least every 20 years to put the question before the voters of whether or not to hold a convention to review, rewrite and otherwise update it. As a result in 1965 the voters approved a convention, to be held in 1967. This meant that during the November 1966 elections, 186 delegates were also to be elected, three from each legislative district of New York and a slate of delegates at large.

    When originally discussed and planned, the announced noble intent was to have a “non-political people’s” convention with delegates elected from all walks of life. I and several others from our upstate district actually ran for these delegate positions as more or less independent “citizens”.

    This quickly degenerated into candidates put forth by the Democratic and Republican parties consisting of current legislators, influential lawyers, government lobbyists, foundation executives, power brokers and even mayors in each party that ended up being elected due to name recognition, each with their own axe to grind or career to preserve!

    The actual convention was a “mish-mash” of many crazy proposals and the final version of changes was put to the voters in the fall of that year and was roundly defeated, having spent millions of 1960’s dollars of the state’s money to conduct the whole pointless exercise! The good news was that it was voted down! With all the outside money we see currently in politics in Alaska, unfortunately this might not be the case here.

    A lesson for Alaska today!

    • Fritz Pettyjohn says:

      Montana had the most recent convention in 1972, and it was quite successful. The type of people who read Alaska Watchman will need to involve themselves, including standing as a candidate for delegate. We should have an entirely new generation of political leadership, consisting of well-respected community members who are unable or unwilling to make the commitment to serve in the legislature.

      • Fergie says:

        You hit the nail on the head! However, until you have a majority of decent, sensible leaders who put Alaska first in the state, having a convention with many of the ones we have will present the scenario I reported above in New York in the 1960’s. Thus the first priority is to get such leaders elected in various positions in the legislature and local government because they will end up being convention representatives based on name recognition. Oh, and also, get the legislature moved back to where it is accessible and transparent to the people who voted for them! Then maybe there is a chance for some good to come of constitutional convention. Reality is always a prerequisite for any good public action.


  • Natural Alaskan says:

    One more logical reason for the constitutional convention, thank you. There are many, but no logical arguments against it. Who would not want the people to have a voice in their own government? Those that hold a monopoly on power.

  • Sterling Crone says:

    Elections don’t matter AT ALL. How long will it take for people to understand the machines do it all, and that Alaska is rated as one of THE MOST corrupt in the Union for it? Just like the sheep still masked alone in their own vehicles, we line up to “vote” on mysterious machines. Without con-con and Right Action by hardy, independent thinking Alaskans, we are lost.

    • Gunter Thompson says:

      Your response, your unsupported fear actually, is one reason I’ll vote not to hold a convention. My fear is that the convention would resemble an Anchorage Assembly meeting.

    • Proud Alaskan says:

      Paper ballots,Remember one vote in person with ID

  • JC says:

    Thank you for this rebuttal to Ms. Bakaler’s opinion piece. We do absolutely need a Constitutional Convention. Also,
    Voters need straightforward information and answers to all their concerns before they vote later this year. It is critical for there to be a source of information for all voters which brings a balance to the issues. I wonder if it’s never passed before because of the unanswered questions and fears many people have.
    Perhaps you, Mr. Pettyjohn, or Mr. Bird or Mr. Coghill could take the reins on providing such a site? I would Volunteer to do what I can if I knew where to help.

  • Gunter Thompson says:

    Promoters of the Constitutional Convention should never use the handle, “Con-Con”.